Australia PM Says India Travel Ban Offenders ‘Unlikely’ To Be Jailed

By on
India has added around eight million new cases since the end of March
India has added around eight million new cases since the end of March AFP / SANJAY KANOJIA

The Australian government has walked back on its previous statements and is now saying travelers from COVID-19-stricken India are “highly unlikely” to face jail time and maximum fines. 

The government last week said it is putting a ban on all travelers from India until May 15, including Australian citizens coming home, while the country continues to suffer its worst COVID-19 surge yet. It has warned that offenders could face five years in jail and a fine of AU$66,000.

Facing backlash from lawmakers and Indian-Australians for what is seen as a “mean-spirited” move of abandoning Australians abroad, Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Tuesday said the government will likely not impose these maximum penalties on anyone. 

"I don't think it would be fair to suggest these penalties in their most extreme forms are likely to be placed anywhere,” Morrison told Channel Nine.

Morrison, however, clarified that the restrictions aim to keep Australia safe from a COVID-19 surge. The country has managed to curb the spread of the virus, only recording 29,841 cases and 910 deaths as of May 3. This is a stark difference from India’s grim COVID-19 crisis.

“This is a way to ensure we can prevent the virus coming back,” Morrison said of the restrictions. He said the rules will be used “responsibly and proportionately" in an aim to keep the country safe from the virus and to ease the pressure from its health sector.

Morrison has faced much backlash since the travel ban was announced. #DictatorScott trended on Twitter as calls for the government to help repatriate citizens filled social media.

“We should be helping Aussies in India return home not jailing them. Let's fix our quarantine system rather than leave our fellow Australians stranded," Nationals senator Matthew Canavan said in a tweet.

India has recorded more than 300,000 cases every day for the past 10 days. It posted 368,147 cases within 24 hours on Monday. It has a total COVID-19 death toll of 218,959, Aljazeera reported. 

Join the Discussion